Where does the buck stop?
Officials from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland have said that restaurants are liable even if customers order rare burgers.
The US FDA specifies for food safety reasons minced beef products must be cooked to heat all parts of the food to a minimum temperature of 63°C for three minutes, 66°C for one minute, 68°C for 15 seconds or 70°C. This is because pathogens on the surface of meat are easily transferred to the centre during mincing and mixing, and for the ‘kill step’ to be effective any pathogens must be exposed to sufficient heat.
But what if the customer demands a rare burger — is it the restaurant’s responsibility to tell him he can’t have it?
In Australia, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry is throwing up similar conundrums. People are complaining that the banks lent them more than they could afford to repay. Is it the banks’ responsibility to police those asking for loans and tell them they can’t afford what they are asking for?
Surely the banks owe responsibility to their shareholders and they need to establish that any loans can be recouped, not whether or not the loan is sensible for the person requesting it.
The same is happening in the food industry. The food industry is now thought to be responsible for the ‘obesity epidemic’. Is it really the food industry’s responsibility to control what people are eating?
I agree it is certainly the food industry’s responsibility to label their products honestly and to make it very simple for consumers to know exactly what they are purchasing. But for the industry to be responsible for what people choose to eat is going a bit too far.
I am not a ‘naysayer’ — I do believe in climate change and I understand epidemiological ramifications of obesity, but I resent the implication that obesity is solely caused by the food industry wantonly targeting the consumer with junk food.
All research shows that obesity is greater in lower socioeconomic areas. So rather than simply blame the food industry for this, work could be done to make the distribution of wealth more equitable. Welfare support could be increased, minimum wages increased, sport and exercise could be made more affordable for children and adults, fruit and vegetables could be subsidised…
Sooner or later we all have to take responsibility for ourselves. It is no good saying that the food industry made me eat those chocolates — it didn’t, I made that choice (and possibly, I shouldn’t have drunk that extra glass of red either).
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